Hearing-impaired Washington Redskins fans must be provided with “equal access to aural content” in FedEx Field such as music lyrics, ads and other content broadcast on the stadium’s PA system, a U.S. District judge has ruled.
The team already provides closed-captioned play-by-play and announcements on its video screens, but the ruling requires the Redskins to expand that to include song lyrics as well.
The “Star Spangled Banner” and “Hail to the Redskins” are already captioned, but songs played during cheerleading routines fall under the ruling.
The team began captioning after three hearing-impaired fans filed the lawsuit in 2006. However, Judge Alexander Williams Jr. ruled Sept. 30 that it didn’t go far enough to satisfy Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.
He ruled the captioning was not optional but required, adding that while the team had made “what appears to have been reasonable efforts” to accommodate the hearing-impaired, additional steps were needed, according to the Washington Post.
Williams also said that ADA regulations require that “music with lyrics played at FedEx Field be effectively communicated to deaf and hard-of-hearing fans.”
Redskins attorney David Donovan told the paper that the team would begin looking at ways to address Williams’ remaining concern that hearing-impaired fans be able to read the lyrics of music used during cheerleader dance routines. Otherwise, he said, the decision would have little consequence for stadium operations.
For some, the ruling may have unintended consequences. Presumably, this includes not only equal access to audible stadium advertising, but equal-opportunity annoyance from the lyrical quality of classic sports anthems such as “Who Let The Dogs Out” and the chant in “Rock and Roll Part II.”